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Canon hits milestone with production of 10 million consumer D-SLRs

Canon took the not unusual step, yesterday, to announce that it has sold over 10 million DSLR cameras, beginning with the EOS 300D. That's an odd statement bearing in mind they had already been manufacturing DSLRs before that time. I can't imagine they didn't sell many. The EOS D30 (as opposed to the EOS 30D) had already garnered worldwide praise, and presumably sales, then there was the EOS 10D, which I believe from memory was introduced before the EOS 300D. What's more, there were several pro models before that, though they were made in conjunction with Kodak. But I suppose I'm nit-picking.

Also interesting from the press release (see below) is the revelation of selling in excess of 50 million SLRs since May 1959. The Canon Flex, their first SLR, may not have seen the same success as arch-rival Nikon's F, which sold close to a million units from 1959 to 1973 but the company has produced some classic cameras nonetheless.

The shutter-priority AE-1 introduced in 1976, if memory serves, and was the best selling model of all time, selling over 3 million bodies. (UPDATE, I forgot to add the further 2-million units Canon sold after I had one, Wikipedia has a good article about the AE-1 here. Did you spot the deliberate mistake, though? The New FD lens range was introduced with the AV-1 in 1979, not with the AE-1 as suggested). I had one and it was a good camera indeed. I always hankered after the multi-mode A1, though. Available in black only, it was a beautiful looking and handling camera that was well received by the press. Of course there was the pro-grade F1 and New F1, both very close on a technical level with the Nikon F, F2 and F3 of the time, but neither model really received the same critical acclaim of their rivals.

I want to mention the AT-1, too, an oddball if ever there was one. The manual exposure AT-1 was a parred down AE-1, selling for around 10-percent less than the AE-1, but, and here is the rub, it retained the electronic shutter. An electronic camera with no automation, apart from a exposure meter. What was that all about? I couldn't see the attraction then and I still can't today. After all, part of the appeal of a manual camera (aside from the obvious) is a mechanical shutter that'll keep working long after the batteries (or battery in the AT-1) fail. But then it was never meant as a pro camera, so I guess if it meant someone could afford it, who couldn't save the extra for the AE-1, it must have been a good thing. Right? A sign of independent thinking maybe, but I don't think it sold well.

It wasn't until the introduction of the EOS 650 in 1986, the very first EOS, that Canon started doing things very differently to their rivals. And over time, attracting professionals, especially the press, away from Nikon. It's perhaps with some irony then, that at the time of this press release, Nikon is staging something of a comeback with three pro-grade full-frame models in their line up, and newcomer Sony is snapping at both companies' heels. With such a huge range of optics, including an extensive range of high-speed fixed focal length lenses, Canon is in a strong position. But who's to say what the landscape will look like in 10 years time. Competition maybe tough, but it leads to real innovation.


UK Press release:

United Kingdom / Republic of Ireland, 3 April, 2009
: Canon has announced that it has produced over 10 million consumer D-SLRs (digital single-lens-reflex) worldwide since the launch of the EOS 300D in 2003. Canon’s D-SLR products have achieved consecutive no.1 rankings in GfK’s consumer hitlist since 2004. Starting with the Canon EOS 300D, the market-leading spot was passed to the 350D in 2005, the EOS 400D in 2006 and the EOS 450D in 2008 (GfK WEU14 Jan~Dec for each respective year) and it is hoped the trend will continue following the recent release of the EOS 500D.

“Canon remains at the forefront of this consumer market growth with a market share of 40 per cent in Europe (GfK WEU14 Jan~Dec 2008) which we account for our commitment to consumer demand and our passion for high-quality image,” said Rainer Fuehres, Head of Canon Consumer Imaging (CCI), Canon Europe. “We hope that the release of the EOS 500D will further strengthen our market position this year.”

The increasing volume of consumer-orientated D-SLR models on the market has also driven an increase the volume of lens sales. Canon’s EF lens portfolio is now the world’s most extensive and popular range of D-SLR lenses, with over 60 models and 40 million sales worldwide.

Canon recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Canon SLR (single lens reflex) cameras, having launched the Canon Flex in May 1959. Over 50 million Canon SLRs have been sold worldwide and Canon SLR cameras are accepted as the benchmark standard for amateur and professional photography.


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